Overview

To continue their recent trend of major title releases, EA has brought Mixed Martial Arts to the iPhone. This fighting game combines plenty of authentic elements from the MMA with unique controls to create a smashing experience that’ll get a little bloody at times.

Features

MMA has 3 modes that’ll provide you with potentially hours of gameplay. Exhitibition mode lets you choose 2 of the 24 real fighters in the game, as well as the location and ring type, in a quick fight. Challenge mode includes 25 specific scenarios for you to play where you have to defeat your opponent with a designated fighter or special condition of some sort. The heart of the game lies in career mode, where you get to create your own custom fighter and guide him through the training and fights of a professional career.

There are 8 fighting styles that you can choose for your character to improve their skills at a certain move or range. 3 difficulty levels are included in all game modes so that you can win some fights no matter how good you are. Player bios and stats are unlocked upon completion of scenarios in challenge mode, as well as other game content. With Retina Display, the slow-motion roundabouts and splattering blood look more realistic than ever.

The Good

Career mode is no doubt the most impressive part of EA’s MMA game, starting with the fact that you have the option to customize your fighter’s name, combat style, looks, tattoos, gear, and even attitude. Upon choosing a style, you’ll receive 3 skill points that you can assign to various attributes to improve your character. Your goal is to beat the 7 other players in your league and move up to 1st, eventually entering the hall of fame. Training is also included, and lets you work out with 4 different exercises to boost attributes. Fans of the MMA and UFC will instantly fall in love with career mode, as it presents so many aspects of professional fighting genuinely.

EA includes a fully interactive 3-part tutorial in order for you to learn the moves and controls of the game. It is extremely beneficial and covers the basics of MMA efficiently, so be sure to check that out before starting a game. During a fight, there are two bars at the top of the screen, representing health and stamina. The latter happens to be one of the most critical things in the game, as depleting your stamina will result in ineffective moves and slower reaction times.

The game has untraditional controls that actually function quite well, with the exception of moving around. The 4 basic attacks are called by tapping the 4 corners of your screen. Other attacks include swiping from one corner to an adjacent one and tapping on round buttons that appear. In order to grapple, you must approach your opponent and move 2 thumbs inward on the screen. Swiping down with both thumbs results in a possible takedown if you’re in the right position. While there are many controls to learn, the game will prompt you with arrows and buttons during fights that tell you exactly what to do.

MMA contains a superb soundtrack that ranges from heavy metal to hip hop, with good voice effects from commentators during fights as well. The fighting rings and backgrounds look crystal clear, even on older devices. When your fighter performs stunning moves, the game will sometimes go into slow motion, letting you take in every bit of the action, especially on a 4th gen iPhone or iPod Touch.

The Bad

The game uses entirely tilt controls for movement around the fighting arena, which proves to be difficult and unresponsive at times. In order to sidestep, you must sharply tilt your device, which doesn’t always work. When trying to get away from an opponent, your fighter’s movement speed seems to decrease significantly, and the poor controls don’t help that matter. Before you know it, your nemesis will have already caught up and you’ll be on the floor again. For many of the game’s actions, all you have to do is touch 2 buttons as they appear on the screen. This essentially transforms the game from a legitimate fighting experience to a reaction test. Career mode is relatively short as well, and you are forced to retire upon winning the title.

In contrast to the visuals of the fighting rings, the graphics of the characters and the actual fighting are both choppy and glitchy. Apart from skin tones and other occasional differences, the fighters look the same. Besides their muscles, not much else of their bodies are defined very well, Also, glitches occur during matches so that two people have their arms or legs overlapping in the same area. When doing a takedown, the graphics look plain awful as well.

The Verdict

MMA By EA Sports is a terrific game to play that is very enjoyable, but gameplay degradation caused by poor tilt controls and button pressing prevents it from being a must buy. 3 excellent game modes and an impressive amount of authentic content definitely impact the fighting experience. MMA By EA Sports is worth it for $4.99 and is probably the most realistic fighting game available.